Checkout these expert tips from Katie Vermilyea, Director of Enablement at Bitly -- formerly at American Express and Vimeo.
Global crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, forces companies to reevaluate spend across the entire business — and there’s no question that the learning budget is always the first to go. This is why it’s critical to showcase the value of learning and enablement as often as you can. Katie Vermilyea, Director of Enablement at Bitly, shares how to prepare for these moments with a regular tech stack audit to drive program success.
1. Do your research.
Take some time to sit down with each department leader and your tool stakeholders. What systems are they going into? It’s more than listening to a library of Gong conversations; Katie explains that side-by-side observations with your users (not coaching sessions) are key. For example, when observing a sales rep, you should book time before and after a prospecting call to also get a sense of their pre-call planning and the post-call workflow — both insights that happen outside of a recorded sales call. You’ll be able to tell if the reps are using the systems effectively by observing the interactions with each tool: the email outreach, logging call activities and adding post-call notes into the CRM.
The goal of these observation sessions is to watch & learn, ask strategic questions, identify patterns of behavior and discover opportunities to make the user’s job easier. It’s not about picking on the reps that use the tool incorrectly; it’s about figuring out how and why they’re using the system in a particular way. Bonus: You can also use this time to catch folks who are savvier than others — and use them as champions on the floor to help with tool adoption and enablement.
2. Talk to your Customer Success Manager (CSM).
Especially at the beginning of a tech stack audit, it’s critical to get every vendor on the phone. This might take a month or so, but it’s important to talk to each CSM and have a frank conversation around the product usage and tool ROI (return-on-investment). Don’t be afraid to be strategic and pull in sales ops or other business stakeholders to fill in the knowledge gaps around the solution. Katie keeps a folder for each vendor – with a running doc of all meeting notes and open items – and shares that doc with all the vendors so that there’s full transparency around the conversations and clear agenda items for each step of the audit.
3. Design measurement — is the tool effective?
At the end of the tech stack audit, you should be able to map out how the different tools relate to one another and identify if there’s a gap in your tech stack — or at least be able to identify the weakest link. Here are some of the things that Katie thinks about when looking to replace or add a new tool:
Think about the low hanging fruit — ie a tool with an upcoming renewal that’s easy to rip and replace
Ask the sales leaders about the tools they’ve used that worked really well in the past
Reach out to your enablement peers for recommendations
Google your options — and check out competitor tool’s reviews (G2, Capterra) and social presence
When evaluating tools, make sure to come up with a list of consistent questions for a clear data set and figure out which feature/ask means the most to you. Each tool should help you measure team performance before and after the roll out, give your managers coaching tools to help with tool adoption + proficiency and share accountability (and responsibility — it’s not just on the enablement leader) for performance across the board. Bonus points for a tool with great visuals for at-a-glance insights — like WorkRamp!
Plus, tips on finding budget for new tools.
It’s a good idea to figure out what you’re paying all your vendors to determine how much budget you have to work with. The easiest way to find budget is to look at how many licenses you’ve purchased for each tool. Katie says that the most common mistake most folks make is over-purchasing licenses based on headcount projections over the course of the contract. Enablement professionals should switch to procuring the minimum number of licenses you need now and negotiate the option to add more licenses at the current (or lower) contract rate. Otherwise, you’re paying 12 months more for a handful of licenses that you only really needed for 6 months!